Spotlight: Left Field Brewery

This fall, we began hosting monthly networking nights around Toronto giving young women in business even more of an opportunity to get together and chat in an open and inviting space.

Having worked with Left Field Brewery many times in the past, I suggested the venue as the ideal environment for the YWiB community to get together for a drink (or flight!) and some good conversation. We held our first event there in September for an intimate gathering of passion young professionals.

flight

Established in Toronto in April 2013, Left Field Brewery is a baseball-inspired tap room, with accompanying brews. Their brand is born from a passion for craft beer and baseball, and their unique and full-flavoured beers do not disappoint.

Left Field celebrates the community in a variety of ways, from hosting pop-up shops for local restaurants, workshops with local artisans (including myself!), and collaborating with other breweries on tasty new brews.

Pictured: Our group from the October networking night

Pictured: Our group from the October networking night

Located in the Leslieville area at 36 Wagstaff Drive, Left Field is the great place to spend an evening with a partner, friend, or any baseball and beer lover. Check out their family (and dog!) friendly Tap Room and Bottle Shop from 11am - 9pm daily. Want to learn even more? Check out their brewery tours every Saturday and Sunday at 2pm. You won’t be disappointed.

Written by: Victoria Stacey

Finding Your Winter Uniform

Blues1

I feel like for most of Winter, I end up in what I would call my "winter uniform": black pants, a cute top, and some form of booties. There's nothing wrong with this look, but it can get a little bit monotonous. I start to feel like I'm in a fashion rut. So I started talking with a friend, whose style I admire, about her winter uniform. Tracey has a great aesthetic; a lot of really classically designed, neutral pieces combined with tailored silhouettes. This is almost the opposite from my style. I love color. I like exploring new and out there patterns and textures. I decided to try to dabble in a little bit of what I would call "her style" and I have to say, it was not as easy as I thought it was going to be. In this post, I'm going to talk about how to step out of your bubble and find a new winter uniform. 

The first step in changing up your winter style is identifying what your current winter wardrobe is. Do you wear a lot of chunky, oversized sweaters and riding boots? Are you constantly in dark washed jeans? Are there any items in your closet you wear excessively? As I said before, a black Ponte pant, a cute sweater, and some form of boot is my winter go-to. I can admit that I am guilty of over using this outfit. Every now and then, I might mix it up by adding a blazer or a scarf, but the key elements remain the same. 

After identifying your current style choice, the next step is to look for something outside of those bounds. What do I mean, you ask? I mean look for something different in terms of silhouette, texture, or color. For me, I always wear brightly colored tops and black skinnies, so I decided to go with a more neutral palette and joggers. By changing both the silhouette and the color scheme, this outfit is already wildly different from what I would usually wear. These differences help to push me in a new direction and to expand my fashion horizon. 

The final step in creating a new winter go-to is to pay attention to the details. Accessories matter! The winter white clutch I'm carrying with this look really compliments the silver tone of the sweater. If I had chosen a black bag or even a camel colored bag, it would not have matched as well with the mostly navy look I was going for. In turn, the metallic of the sweater pairs well with the dramatic earrings I'm wearing. The scarf matches back to the pants and the pumps in a way that ties the entire look together. Each accessory is a small portion of the entire outfit, but it is an important factor in the overall look. 

Sweater: H&M
Joggers: Asos Curve
Clutch: BCBGeneration
Pumps: Cole Haan
Scarf: Target
Earrings: Target and Forever 21

Photo credit: S. Hoffman


Chelsea Madkins is a shoe buyer for Dillard’s department store. On the side she runs the fashion blog, Obsessions of a Fashion Nerd. It is her goal to help women feel not only more comfortable, but more confidence in and empowered by what clothing they wear.
Follow her on Instagram: obsessionsofafashionnerd

blues2.jpg

Why You Should Stop Spending to Keep Up with the Joneses

Joneses3

One of the struggles I face as a blogger (*gasp*) is how to constantly come up with new content without breaking the bank. I always want to make sure I am bringing something new and exciting to my audience. In this social media obsessed day and age, it is very easy to look around and see all the things you don't have and feel discouraged. This is something that I don't think anyone is immune to.  When I look at some of my favorite bloggers, Rochelle JohnsonGabi Gregg, and Anna Obrien it is easy to get a case of the wants. Having said that, I know that I cannot constantly be spending on clothing. It is very easy for a small shopping bug to get you into serious credit card debt. As a blogger, I have to budget for apparel like I would a business expense. So when I get the itch for something new but it is not in the budget, I turn to my closet and see what old pieces I can revamp to make feel new again. (You may remember the skirt from this post.) In this post, I am going to share five steps on how you can do the same.

5) Look at the new trends for the season and see what you are inspired by. For me, I am really loving the tapestry inspired looks and pearls. I have been seeing pearls as embellishments on shoes, apparel, and handbags. I like that both would add elements of sheen and texture to my outfits. Think about the trends you like and make sure they are things that are going to work with your overall look. It defeats the purpose if you have to buy another item just to wear whatever piece you revamp. What trends are you noticing for fall?

4) Go to your closet and look for an item that you may have once loved, but are not getting a lot of wear out of. Have you worn the item in the last four months? Could the styling of this piece work with the new trend? Is the piece very simple in its styling? Pearls are an easy trend to incorporate in an outfit; you can sew them on by hand. I scavenged mine from an old bracelet I no longer wear. The same less is more policy can work for the tapestry/embroidery look. A needle and thread will cost way less than a new skirt.

3) Develop a game plan for how to alter your forgotten favorite. For this skirt, I knew I wanted it to have a fuller body and that I wanted it to be shorter. This was simple to fix by cutting off a few inches and sewing on additional layers of tulle. I also wanted to have pearls thrown throughout the skirt in a random pattern. For this, I got a thicker thread to hand stitch the pearls on. The happenstance placement would allow the pearls to catch light throughout the skirt. 

2) Gather the supplies needed to transform your piece. For me, it was extra tulle, pearls, thread, and a pair of scissors. Be sure to check around your home for things that can be reused. Walmart and craft stores are great to load up in supplies for future projects. The point of this entire project is to make it high fashion, but keep it low budget.

1) Alter your piece. There are a ton of tutorials on YouTube if you need help. I have been blessed that my mom taught me to sew at a young age. I started by creating two tulle ruffles and sewing them onto the elastic waistband. Once I saw how long the layers were, I shortened and hemmed the original skirt to match. The pearls were hand stitched on to finish off my project. I now have a one of kind piece that not only fulfills my need for something new, but acts as a creative outlet as well.

Tank: Donna Karan
Skirt: formerly Gap
Booties: Gianni Bini, via Dillard's
Jacket: Elvi
Necklace: Creative, South on Main
Earrings: Aldo. Clutch: Aryn

Photo Credit: J. Vige


Chelsea Madkins is a shoe buyer for Dillard’s department store. On the side she runs the fashion blog, Obsessions of a Fashion Nerd. It is her goal to help women feel not only more comfortable, but more confidence in and empowered by what clothing they wear.
Follow her on Instagram: obsessionsofafashionnerd

Joneses4

Why I run (and why you should to)

I am a go-getter. I’ve worked two jobs simultaneously since the age of 18, paid for my post-secondary schooling out of pocket and went to four different countries in the span of a year (oh how I miss 2015). I work a lot. Having spent the last 6 years extending myself between two jobs and school, I’ve learned that focusing on your personal well-being is just as important, if not more so, than all of those things. 

When I started running, it was mostly for health reasons. I was overweight, eating horribly, perpetually stressed out (thanks Ryerson!), and could barely do 2 minutes without needing to stop to catch my breath. Fast forward a year later and I can run a 10K comfortably, workout regularly, and am currently training to run a marathon next spring. In the year that I have dedicated myself to running I’ve seen myself grow in ways that I could never imagine, and to my surprise, it has improved my work life tremendously.

Get uncomfortable

When I first started running I could only run for a couple minutes at a time, but after a couple weeks I was up to about 5 minutes of continuous running, then 10, then 20 and now 5K on a daily basis. Running is hard, mentally and physically, and there are times when it makes you regret all of your life decisions. But it pushes you out of your comfort zone, and that is a quality you can apply to anything in life, including work. Just remember, the end result is only great because of the struggle that came before it.

Once you're dedicated, consistency is easy

Being able to run long distances takes a lot of cardiac ability, and that does not come easy; it’s something you have to dedicate significant time and energy to. Having two jobs and going to school made it easy for me to justify skipping a run because I was tired or had no time. But, when you truly decide to dedicate yourself to something, you make time for it, no matter what. And so, I started getting up at 5:30am every morning to go for a run. Not only did it teach me about dedication, but also how dedication and consistency go hand in hand; you can’t have one without the other. Whether it is with running or work, putting in the work every day is essential for your success.

You're forced to put yourself first

There is no shortage of studies on the importance of exercise on mental health. Regular exercise has been proven to reduce levels of stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression, in addition to improving your physical health and sleeping habits. As start out in your career, it is important to establish healthy routines early on that will last. In the past year that I’ve dedicated myself to running, I’ve noticed a change in my work habits resulting in improved productivity because I am more rested, focused, and my stress levels are at an all-time low. Running has forced me to put my mind and body first; if you can do that, everything else will become a lot easier. 

It’s the purest form of happiness

I cannot express how important it is to find something you enjoy that you don’t get paid for. Whether it is volunteering at a non-profit organization, pole dancing, knitting or painting, having something that gives you genuine enjoyment really is important. When you take money out of the equation, it makes doing something so much more special because then it is truly for you.  

Find something that makes you happy outside of work. I recognize how easy it is to lose yourself in the job; I myself have spent the last six years doing just that. What I’ve come to realize, however, is that work isn’t everything. Fifty years from now, when you're retired with no more work to speak of, what will you have? As Hillary Clinton proclaimed, "Don't confuse having a career with having a life."

Written by: Ashleigh H.

Being a Unicorn: How YWiB Helped Me Launch My Career

Walking into any YWiB event, a few things are clear: There are TONS of young women in Toronto looking to grow their network and start their career, and there is (unfortunately) no formula that can be shared for launching a career. Since launching YWiB, I’ve met women looking for their first job, trying to leave a job they’re unhappy in, women considering entrepreneurship, or sometimes, a unicorn: a woman happy with her job and career trajectory! We all want to be that last woman, and it’s entirely possible – YWiB just happened to help me get there.

In 2015 a friend of mine told me about an interesting organization based out of Vancouver. She wanted to launch a chapter in Toronto. Nearly a year later, we launched YWiB Toronto with a conference uniting 80 women and men interested in our mission.

I became the Events Director for the organization and our team produced vastly unique monthly events, each one bringing in new women to meet, with many of them becoming members and volunteers. Each month we secured a new venue, tried a different caterer, and facilitated a different activity or panel topic. My favourite was a yoga class that ended with free pressed green juice. The events weren’t perfect, but we learned a lot – working with different vendors and partners can give you a pretty comprehensive understanding of the events landscape. More importantly, it ignited my desire to pursue events full time.

A year after launching YWiB Toronto, I began my career search. At the time, I was a community manager for a shared office space and was enjoying the relaxed and social nature of my job. Unfortunately, growth was stagnant and I needed a new challenge. My first challenge, however, was to figure out how to make the move to launch my career.

I looked at all we’d built with YWiB – an active community of women interested in attending our events – and realized this could be a full-time job. YWiB took over the top spot in my resume, I highlighted some of the community events I had organized at my job, and took to my career search.

My search took 6 months but eventually I found success – I entered an industry I had never worked in before into a role where I’m responsible for organizing conferences of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of attendees! The company is small and appreciates the fact that I had a hand in many sides of the YWiB events, and since none of my colleagues have experience with meetup style networking events, I bring something new to the team. Everything I learned from a year with YWiB is being put to use. I’ve reached Unicorn status - finally, I'm happy with my career trajectory!

YWiB has the potential to help you become a unicorn too. It’s simply what we do – whether you meet someone hiring for a job you want, get inspired by the entrepreneurs on a panel, or even something as small as asking for help on the Facebook Group. Keep in mind that unicorns don’t last forever. After a few months into the new gig you’ll undoubtedly begin wanting something more, some job growth, or a whole new career change… and the cycle continues. Become a unicorn, and I encourage you to use YWiB to help you get there. While you’re there, try helping someone else become a unicorn. Thrive, learn, and grow – then start the journey to become a unicorn all over again.

Written by: Olivia Kitevski, Founding Member & Emailing Marketing Coordinator @ YWiB

Event Recap: From Side Hustle to Full Hustle

Ah, the life of an entrepreneur. Some try it, many don't like it, but one thing is certain - it is hard to truly understand it until you make the decision to jump in with both feet. Transitioning from a side hustle to a full hustle, getting out of your comfort zone, is what our event was all about.

As an entrepreneur myself, I found that I was relating to each woman on the panel in different ways. This blog will recap the insights from the event, along with my own learnings along the way.

Click here to read about each panelist's story, watch the discussion (we streamed it for you!), and catch up on the latest news from YWiB TO.  

Panelists.JPG

Want to know more and connect with them? Visit their websites and follow their social channels!

From left to right:
Paloma Lev 
Victoria Stacey 
Renish Kamal
Mary Young
Tracey Nguyen

Making The Transition

It can be exciting, scary as hell, overwhelming, exhilarating and so many more emotions when you take the leap of faith to becoming an entrepreneur. When you are working, you have the security of a paycheque every two weeks or month, and it can seem daunting of a decision to make. Our panel weighed in on how they knew they were ready to take the plunge.

For Vicki, our newest entrepreneur, it was a combination of enough savings, and unhappiness at her job. Her confidence in her network provided her with support through the transition.

Renish shared that it was an emotional decision - she could feel it was the right thing to do, it moved her. She shared a serendipitous encounter with a stranger who was inspired enough to invest in her after overhearing her idea, and having confidence in her passion. Personally, I believe the universe sends us signs, and that was definitely one. 

Mary delved into the world of conscious consumerism in her schooling, and received immediate interest in her ideas. While she never imagined going straight from school into entrepreneurship, research and support from her family and Futurepreneur brought her long-term goals into fruition. She insightfully suggested to take the leap when you are 80% confident.

Confidence is integral to Paloma's journey as well. She values freedom, and doesn't like taking orders from anyone, so for her, entrepreneurship was the only option. Freedom is something sought after for many entrepreneurs, and Paloma could not agree more.

Personally, I think having a balance of emotional and rational decision making is important. Entrepreneurship will never appeal only to your rational mind. No steady income. Sporadic interaction with colleagues (if you start a business solo). Very little structure. Many more hours involved. A lot more rejection. How will that ever make sense? It makes sense because you also have to appeal to your emotions, to your values, and fall back on your hope and confidence. Balance is key, and I love the 80% rule here too... don't wait until you are 100% sure... you might never get there. That last 20% is hope... and you will need to use your drive to succeed. 

Challenges & Learnings

For Vicki and Renish, (and myself) family values and perceptions was a challenge. It can be hard for those who love us and have grown up in a different landscape to truly understand this decision. Cultural backgrounds can be a factor that adds some spice to the mix (see what I did there), as it is hard for South Asian families to see a woman in this role. Paloma warns of sharing the tiny flame ideas with those who might blow it out before it has a chance to grow. We have all experienced that, even if it isn't related to a business idea and it is never a good feeling. As she lives with ADD, she described how this can both a blessing or a curse - depending on how you see it. She beautifully articulated how the aspect she thought would be her downfall is actually her fuel.

Even with the support of family, managing work-life balance is hard. Mary accurately describes something we all experience... hearing the advice from other entrepreneurs about work-life balance, and dismissing it, thinking it won't happen to me, until it does. One key theme that emerged in the panel is the notion that it is all part of the journey.

This resonated with me. As an entrepreneur, I value the aspect of networking and have been to different events, and connected with different mentors and leaders. I hear advice and feedback, yet it is only until I experience it myself that it truly comes to life and becomes real.

Challenges entrepreneurs experience might be similar or unique based on numerous factors, but Renish points out that our challenges can be fuel. It can make us stronger, and it has made her into the mentor that she never had.

Looking back, Paloma would try to remind herself that it she is building relationships, not just providing a one-off service. She suggests to create an Excel spreadsheet and keep track of people, and take time to check in with them. Mary has learned the huge impact of self-compassion - acknowledging there will be hurdles and being kind to yourself if you can't be everything all the time. This is one of the core components when I work with clients in a counselling setting, as well as in the trainings I run for wellness & resilience.

In my work, I host corporate workshops on the topic of resilience, and teach positive habits that we can include in our lives to boost our well-being, which does make us more resilient and happier in our personal and professional lives. I am currently with York University as a Counsellor Intern & Ryerson University working on the Thriving in Action initiative, with Diana Brecher (creator of the Five Factor Model of Resilience), and I am the Founder of Choose Gratitude, an organization dedicated to improving the well-being in our world through workshops and presentations. I've had the opportunity to work with law firms, financial institutions, small businesses, schools, and non-profits, and irrespective of the industry, these concepts and tools resonate, and are invaluable. I teach people about themselves (why we do the things we do, and what happens in our brains), & why incorporating new skills (such as gratitude) can be beneficial. When an executive and a new employee can connect over an exercise on gratitude, it is something special. When lawyers give me feedback wishing there were more people who attended, I recognize the need for this message to extend further.

Closing Thoughts

When hearing the challenges and learnings from the panelists, I recognize that each of us experience similar sorts of adversity. As young women, it is especially important to remember that and to lean on each other for support, guidance, and connection. This is why events like these are so powerful - having the courage and vulnerability to have these conversations can be impactful irrespective of your role. During my time as a volunteer with Young Women in Business Toronto, I have had the pleasure of being the Director of Community Engagement and Acting President, working behind the scenes to grow the organization and pull off events like this one, yet as I've needed to transition out of these roles, I found myself at the event as an attendee, feeling the positive energy we always have in a new light. I am so proud of the values and initiatives ingrained in the organization, and encourage young women in Toronto to share this with friends, and grow this engaging, inclusive, and supportive community.

Our panelists left us with the reminders to be unapologetic in our beliefs. Don't allow ourselves to be treated as commodities. Do not let the guilt or insecurity take over. Stay focused, even if it means putting blinders on sometimes. Let the journey become yours.

I say we should embrace all the moments. Cherish the challenges and the successes. Feel thankful for each person that helps you along the way. Acknowledge yourself in the process. Choose gratitude in all its forms to empower you along your journey... whatever that may be.

Panel.JPG

The Top 3 Skills You Need to be a Successful Entrepreneur

Paloma

1. the power of persuasion - confidence,
2. your pitch - wanting and not needing your clients,
3. writing - good selling is finding the right match, and knowing who you are will inform your voice and find your people.

Mary

1. resilience - you must be able to bounce back from the no's,
2. organization - find techniques that work for you,
3. balance - to avoid burnout.

Renish

1. self-awareness - know what you are good at,
2. vulnerability - accept what you aren't good at, tying into humility,
3. decisiveness - know when to chill out.

Vicki

1. ability to handle rejection
2. ability and making it priority to meet new people, it is about collaboration over competition,
3. ability to get over feeling guilty.
 

Written by: Diviya Lewis
Founder - Choose Gratitude
www.choosegratitude.ca
@ch00segratitude